By Candace Birkelbach
Killeen Daily Herald
The Rev. William M. Campbell Jr., pastor of the Anderson Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Killeen, has taken several mission trips, but during a recent trip to Kenya he helped establish a safe haven in a country currently experiencing turmoil between tribes.
The AME Church has about 3,000 churches on the continent of Africa, but Campbell helped establish the first one in the country of Kenya during a mission trip he took in late November and early December.
Campbell said he has been to Kenya several times and worked with several organizations in order to plan on a mission crusade to help plant the first AME church in Kenya.
Bishop Paul Kawimbe, presiding prelate of the 17th Episcopal District, led the expansion of the church into Kenya and invited Campbell to help him.
Campbell said the AME Church is mission-oriented in order to make a difference for those in need.
The congregation was able to build a temporary structure with a tin roof that seats about 250 people during the few weeks Campbell was there.
The plan is to build a permanent structure along with medical and technology centers along with a food bank.
The church, named Bethel Nakuru, was built on the Manyani grounds in the city of Nakuru under the leadership of the Rev. Moses Achola.
Campbell said the church was built in a strategic location because people in both mobile and impoverished situations live near the church grounds.
The church had a phenomenal start, and Campbell said he received positive messages from the Reverend Moses after his departure.
Moses wrote an e-mail to Campbell telling him of the sustained success of the church and that many more people wanted to join.
“You did open a door that many shall go through in their destinies in God,” Moses wrote a few days after Campbell’s departure.
Despite the success of the AME church in Kenya, the country is still experiencing extreme political tension after recent elections that some believe were rigged by incumbent party members.
“The election crisis was very present,” Campbell said.
Campbell explained the political conflict by comparing it to elections in America.
America uses political parties, but in Kenya leaders are represented by tribes that have been established for thousands of years, he said.
“Here, we have lawsuits instead of bloodshed,” Campbell said.
On Jan. 7, Moses wrote again to Campbell explaining some of the problems they were facing due to tribal violence.
Moses wrote that suddenly tribes who lived in harmony for many years, mostly the Luos and Kikuyus, have turned to enemies.
The president who allegedly won the election is a Kikuyu and the opposition leader who also claims to have won the election is a Kikuyu, Moses wrote.
Moses said because his tribe is Luos, they are in a hard place. He said in the long run, they may be forced to move to a different area.
Still, both Campbell and Moses have hope for the future.
“Our church is growing and amidst our still pending challenges, Bethel Nakuru is taking root and her presence is already being felt in the community,” Moses wrote.
Campbell said it is through crisis, historically, that churches grow and spread.
Campbell said there were many children he wanted to help in the mission crusade.
Two of Moses’ daughters helped teach Campbell Binba, one of many dialects spoken by people in Kenya. Campbell said it was amazing to see young children speak three or four languages.
Overall, Campbell said the mission went smoothly.
“There is always an adventure in doing missions,” Campbell said. “None are without excitement and you always have to be prepared for the unexpected.”
Campbell said he wanted to thank several local pastors who supported his mission, regardless of denomination:
Bishop Nate Holcomb - Christian House of Prayer
Bishop G. L. Grace - New Zion Christian Fellowship
Pastor David G. Reynolds - Greater Vision Community Church
Other churches outside of the Killeen area:
Pastor Rob Canady - All Nations Fellowship - Mesquite, TX
Pastor Frederick D. Haynes, III - Friendship West Baptist Church - Dallas, TX
Bishop Andre L. Jackson - New Vision Full Gospel Baptist Church - Orange, NJ
Pastor William D. Watley - St. James AME Church - Newark, NJ
Pastor Pamela Rivera - St. Luke AME Church - Waco, TX
Minister Phyllis Johnson - Harvest Ministries - Dallas, TX
Contact Candace Birkelbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7553